The nine students, who were detained along with their driver last year, were reportedly ‘brutally tortured’ in custody
By Myanmar Now
A junta court last week gave hefty prison sentences to a group of nine students who were accused of trying to join the armed resistance movement and “brutally tortured” in detention.
The students from Hpa-An University were sentenced on Thursday along with the man who was driving them when they were arrested in Mon State’s Bilin Township on March 28 last year, their lawyer said.
The junta’s forces stopped them as they travelled in a light truck and transferred them to Hpa-An Police Station, accusing them of trying to travel to an area under the control of an ethnic armed group to receive military training.
Seven of the students were given 12-year sentences for incitement and sabotage, while the other two and the driver got 13 years each because an extra charge was added to their sentence for using an unlicensed vehicle.
“We are planning to appeal and we are contacting the parents now,” said the lawyer.
The students are all in their 20s and were in their first and second years of study before they were detained.
A member of the Hpa-An Students’ Union central executive committee, who asked not to be named, said that the junta’s forces tortured the students after detaining them. “They were interrogated as if they were joining the PDF,” he said.
“When they found no evidence, they were transferred to Hpa-An from the Bilin police station,” he said, adding that the students received especially harsh treatment because their parents were believed to have been politically active. “They were brutally tortured.”
Despite that, they continued to stage protests against the regime during their court hearings by waving three-finger salutes and singing protest songs, he added
“They protested even on the day they got sentenced. They were singing the Thway Thitsar song the whole way from the court to the prison,” he said, referring to a song whose title means “blood oath”.
The students are: Saw Min Soe, Min Thu Aung, Aung Kyaw Min, Ye Htut Khaung, Se Marn Hmu, Zaw Win Htut, Han Zaw Myo, Myo Myanmar Aung, and Chit Win Tun. The driver’s name is Win Ko Ko Latt.
A total of 25 students and teachers from Hpa-An University have been detained for their opposition to last year’s military coup, according to the Hpa-An Students’ Union
“We need this revolution to be successful as soon as possible,” said the union’s central executive committee member.
At least 9,067 civilians are still in detention for opposing the military junta, while 1,546 have been killed, according to a recent tally by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
Original Post: Myanmar Now